To the editor:
Last Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving. In the days leading up to it we were horrified by news of two more senseless mass shootings. These events are so frequent they generally don’t even make the news. Even when they are so horrific they do make the news, we have become oversaturated and indifferent. According to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit clearinghouse set up to monitor and document incidents involving firearms, there have been 617 mass shootings (defined as incidents in which four or more persons are killed or injured) in the United States since January 1, 2022. That comes out to 1.86 mass shootings per day. That is 7.4 people a day killed or injured in a mass shooting setting.
This phenomenon is not new; it has been going on for decades and what has our response been? More guns, more guns, more guns. There are more than 250 firearm manufactures licensed in the United States, all of whom have done their best to shape the exacerbation of, instead of a sensible response to, the problem. According to the interim report of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), there were 6,751,742 pistols manufactured in 2021, more than half of which were 9MM semi-automatics. There were 3,933,398 rifles manufactured and more than 1.2 million “miscellaneous” firearms (which include pistol grip firearms, and firearm frames and receivers).
The irony of tasking regulation of firearms by the same folks charged with the regulation of alcohol and tobacco, two of the biggest killers in the history of our country, seems apt. Although it probably assures an equally tepid and tolerant approach, the sad reality is they can only do what they are charged to do. At this point, it is pretty much stand back and watch.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know the current approach is not working and that every single day we sit idle and wring our hands, more than seven people will be killed or injured in a mass shooting. I pray we come to our senses.